, Derry, New Hampshire


August 16, 2012

Column: Once, European royalty dined at Derry's Oxen Yoke


The prince and princess ordered a meal of chopped sirloin, cooked medium rare and a couple of glasses of beer. The little princess had spaghetti and meatballs. Three security guards ate at a table by the front door. A trio of other agents guarded the outside of the building and apparently went unfed.

After the royals finished their meals, Mr. Barrieau came over and introduced himself in French. The prince said he remembered back in 1944 reading about Woody and Pat getting married in the city of Nancy. Woody had been the first American GI to marry a French girl. What really made the headlines in the French newspapers had been the generosity of the newlyweds. By tradition, a collection was always taken in the church to help the newly married couple start their life together. Woody and Pat donated their money to help French war orphans — a gesture that certainly helped cement the American-French relationship.

The prince left his table to spend a few minutes talking to Pat about the changes that had happen to Monaco and France since the war. He invited the Barrieaus to visit them in his palace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The prince of the 0.6 square mile principality remarked on “the small size of Derry.” Woody, in defense of his town, remarked that while it was small, it had produced men like Robert Frost, Matthew Thornton and Alan Shepard. Prince Rainier conceded: “That is good enough.”

Later, the royals and their security people said their adieus. They left the Oxen Yoke praising the restaurant for its “food, services, hospitality, and privacy.” Prince Rainier left behind an autographed menu and his promise that they’d return again one day. With in an hour or so they were at Princess Grace’s family estate in the Bald Peak Colony at Lake Winnipesaukee. It’s not known if they ever returned to visit Derry. Probably they didn’t.

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